Senator Toomey Sends Letter To Secretary Lahood On Lower Merion Street Signs

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Press Release of Senator Toomey

Senator Toomey Sends Letter To Secretary Lahood On Lower Merion Street Signs Friday, March 18, 2011 WASHINGTON, D.C.–

Today, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expressing his concern about new Federal Highway Administration road safety rules and their impact on Pennsylvania communities. New standards for retroreflectivity and visibility mean historical road signs, such as those in Lower Merion Township, would need to be replaced. Changing street signs will cost communities thousands of dollars at a time when local budgets are strapped, as well as depleting our communities of historical character. Sen. Toomey told Secretary LaHood he supports an exemption for municipalities to retain historical signs and urged the secretary to consider the economic and cultural impact of the new rules.


The text of the letter is below.

March 18, 2011

Secretary Ray LaHood U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave.,

S.E. Washington, D.C. 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood,

As secretary of transportation, you have repeatedly and appropriately emphasized your department’s commitment to safety on America’s roadways. I share that commitment and I look forward to working with you in the 112th Congress. As we work to pursue this shared commitment, there is one particular issue of concern to many Pennsylvanians that I want to bring to your immediate attention. As you know, the Federal Highway Administration has instituted several new rules regarding road safety, including new standards for road and street signs. These new rules stipulate that all street signs must meet new standards for retroreflectivity and visibility by Jan. 22, 2018. Unfortunately, these new rules will adversely impact many Pennsylvania communities. Recently, numerous Pennsylvania constituents have called my office to voice their concerns about this new rule, most notably from Lower Merion Township.

Lower Merion’s unique, historical street signs do not meet the new regulatory standards. But their heritage dates back more than 100 years to when the signs were first designed by Alexander Cassatt, the then-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The cast aluminum signs are replicas of the original cast-iron signs, a symbol of Pennsylvania’s industrial heritage. Many residents consider these signs to be an important historical symbol of Lower Merion.

Moreover, the Lower Merion Police Department reports that no accidents on record have been attributed to the existing street signs. The township of Lower Merion, in conjunction with the Lower Merion Historical Society and various other civic associations, have recommend adding a “historical exemption” from the new street sign provisions to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. For cases such as Lower Merion Township’s, where there is no evidence that existing signs constitute a danger, I support the establishment of such an exemption to allow municipalities to keep historical designs serving as symbols of local heritage.

I also respectfully request that your department carefully consider the local economic impact of these new rules. To comply with just this one change, Lower Merion’s Board of Commissioners estimate the cost would exceed $1.5 million. For many small towns, this additional burden on their already strained budgets is too much to bear.

Please feel free to contact my office at any time to discuss this issue in further detail. I appreciate your consideration and look forward to your response.

Sincerely, Pat Toomey U.S. Senator

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